MicroKORG XL – Review.

Based on the bestselling retro styled Korg microKORG, its successor the microKORG XL is an evolution of the original model with many enhancements, in areas such as the sound engine, playability and connectivity.

The new design is housed within a smart black textured plastic case with an aluminium faceplate, which whilst evocating a sense of nostalgia also has a contemporary look.

The XL comes with a wall wart type power supply and can also conveniently be battery powered for portable use.

Out of the box the synth seems well built with its sleek looks. The keyboard is an area where Korg say they have improved on the original instrument, as the XL sports the new natural touch keyboard which is indeed a breeze to play. Attention to detail can be seen in features such as the fact that the white keys are glossy whilst the black are matt as to differentiate. The spacing of keys has also been optimized for playing of fast phrases.

Moving on, the sound engine under the hood now boasts Multi Modelling Technology (MMT), as found on other Korg synths such as the Radias and R3. This can faithfully recreate traditional instruments such as acoustic piano, electric piano and clavinet as well as a host of different classic synth sounds with based around emulating different types of synthesis.

I must say that the latter are also realistic; owning vintage FM and PD synths myself at least these types of sounds the sounds compare very well with the originals.

128 sounds are provided and these can be selected using the rotary dials for genre and instrument type.It is however difficult to see the current position of the knob from above, as a marker is only provided on the side not the top and one has to remember the combination of genre, instrument and A/B for each sound. I would have preferred numbered patches with name displayed on the LCD (The original MicroKORG did not have an LCD display only numbered patches). Thankfully however a favourite genre is provided, where you can store your most used sounds. Three performance edit knobs are also provided as toallow changes to sounds on the fly.

Patch names and other information are displayed on the orange backlit panel which is adequate for the job unless in very bright sunlight or an extreme angle.

The sounds are complemented by seventeen KAOSS based effects which can also be controlled directly from the front panel.

For those who are more advanced, a free editor can be downloaded from the Korg website to allow one deep edit the parameters within the sounds provided as well as the global settings. The software can also be used to back up the MicroKORG’s sounds and setup.

On to the most fun you can legally have with a synthesiser, the XL also brings us a sixteen band vocoder, which can be activated from the included gooseneck microphone or from an external input. Many sounds can be made this way from synth-choirs, through robot voices to talk-box type effects.

In a few minutes I was able to replicate my favourite vocoder sounds with relative ease.

Connectivity is also covered well with the XL. The rear panel hosts the usual connectors such as dual ¼” jacks for stereo out, as well as one for headphones for silent practice. Another ¼” jack allows an external line level equipment to be connected for processing with the unit (a trim control is also provided). Midi in and out is provided too for connections to other synths, as well as a handy USB port for connecting to a PC, in order to use the synth as a midi controller or to use the editor software.

In summary, an outstanding synth, with many versatile features.

By Ernest H Slade

Mp3 Demo 1 (Drums RB-338)

Mp3 Demo 2

For more information:

Korg Product Page